Pulsars: Unique Windows into High-Energy Astrophysics
Dr. Samuel J. McSweeney
Associate Lecturer, Curtin University
When Neutron Stars were predicted in the 1930’s, it was impossible to anticipate just how incredibly useful they would be to push the frontiers of physics into regimes that are impossible to probe here on Earth. Since Pulsars were discovered in the late 1960’s, and positively identified as rapidly rotating Neutron Stars, they have been exploited to test a wide variety of physical theories, including ultra-strong gravity, ultra-dense matter physics, and ultra-high-energy plasma physics. In the first half of the talk, I will take you through the fascinating history of these exotic star systems, from their 1967 discovery by PhD student Jocelyn Bell Burnell; how they were used to verify Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity in the 1970’s and 80’s; to the modern-day, ongoing experiments to use them to detect background long-wavelength gravitational waves. In the second half of the talk, I will explain how my own research attempts to answer one of the most fundamental questions about Pulsars that, incredibly, doesn’t yet have a satisfactory answer: Just why are we able to “see” Pulsars in the first place?
Date and Time: Jul 31, 4-5 pm IST